Dynasty Risers & Fallers: Frankie Montas, Alex Kirilloff, Hunter Renfroe (Fantasy Baseball)
Kyle Miller provides his risers and fallers so far in dynasty fantasy baseball leagues.
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A week into the season is far too soon to overreact on proven baseball players. The key is finding which starts, good or bad, actually matter for the long haul of a fantasy baseball season. While dynasty league owners typically view players through more of a long term lens, aggressiveness can pay off when you find buying or selling opportunities. The first few weeks of the season are about finding values with players who have made changes or have had their situation changed. Below are a few dynasty league risers and fallers from the first week of the season.
Frankie Montas (SP – OAK)
An excellent spring earned Montas the A’s fourth starter spot to begin the season. He pitched to a 0.56 ERA, racking up 16 Ks in 16 innings during his spring training audition. He’s a former top prospect that’s just 26 years old and has a path to being an effective pitcher. He throws both two-seam and four-seam fastballs, with the latter being the better pitch. The problem is that he throws the four-seamer less.
He’s also got a solid slider and a fringy change that he rarely throws. If he can throw more four-seamers up in the zone to use his plus velocity and spin rate, he’ll induce a lot more swings and misses. He scrapped the changeup in favor of a splitter, leading to his great spring. His first start of the season was a six-inning outing with six Ks and one ER. Go out and pick up Montas before the rest of your deep dynasty league catches up to his adjustments.
Ryan McMahon (1B/2B/3B – COL)
The 24-year-old utility man seems to have found himself a home at second base for the Rockies. After a hot spring training, McMahon looks primed for the strong side of a platoon with Garrett Hampson. He smacked four homers and batted .439 in 57 ABs. Most impressively, McMahon struck out just 18% of the time this spring after posting a 31.7% K rate in 91 MLB games last year.
A former top-100 prospect with a starting job in Coors Field is going to be enticing for fantasy owners, especially when he seems to be improving his contact skills. There’s some risk that Hampson simply outperforms McMahon, but I believe there’s a place in the Colorado lineup for both players with the recent Daniel Murphy injury news. In fact, I’d suggest finding a way to roster each player for 2019 and beyond.
Corbin Burnes (RP – MIL)
Three young starting pitchers received news that they’d be part of the starting rotation: Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta. My favorite of the three for 2019 and beyond is Burnes, because he’s just 24 and has big strikeout upside. In his first MLB start, Burnes struck out 12 Cardinals over five innings. He gave us a glimpse at how dominant his stuff can be while also reminding us that he’s a young pitcher in a tough home park, as he allowed three home runs in the start.
He threw a nasty slider, a mid-90s fastball, and get-me-over curveball in the start, showing that he has a starter’s repertoire. I’m excited by this young pitcher and think there’s a ton of upside. Wait until the shine of this 12-K outing wears off and then pounce on him in dynasty leagues.
Alex Kirilloff (OF – MIN)
It’s hard to see Kirilloff’s prospect hype get much higher, but a position change might be just what the doctor ordered. Already the number 15 prospect on Bobby Sylvester’s FantasyPros Top 500 Prospect rankings, the Twins have decided to transition Kirilloff to first base. Normally, a move like this wouldn’t move the needle, but the Twins have one of the most crowded outfield situations in the league and a hole at first, which should accelerate his path to the big leagues and get his bat in the Minnesota lineup sooner.
He projects for plus power and a plus hit tool; the bat will play at the cold corner. He’ll head off to Double-A to begin 2019 and there’s a chance he sees Triple-A by season’s end. Kirilloff needs to be owned in every dynasty league as he’s up to number 156 in FantasyPros Expert Consensus Dynasty Rankings.
Hunter Renfroe (OF – SD)
Renfroe has hit 26 HR in each of the last two seasons, but with mediocre batting averages. He’s a young player, but projections seem to think that’s about the player he is, and while that’d be a useful fantasy asset, he’s in danger of losing his job permanently. He’s battling Franmil Reyes for the starting right field job and Reyes was much better in the spring.
It’s still early, but I’m concerned that Renfroe’s days in San Diego’s outfield are coming to a close. Through six regular season games, Renfroe has been on the bench to start the game for four of them, while Reyes has been in RF and batting cleanup. It’s clear that the Padres are going to give Reyes a chance to take the job and run with it.
Willie Calhoun (OF – TEX)
Prior to the 2018 season, Calhoun was regarded as one of the best hitters in the minor leagues. The question that needed to be answered was what position to play him at. Truthfully, Calhoun’s best defensive position is DH, but the Rangers sent him out to Triple-A to learn LF. He stumbled out of the gates and publicly admitted frustration with being in Triple-A, calling it a “slap in the face.”
He heated up at the plate, eventually, but when he was called up to the Rangers he struggled to live up to the expectations his monster 2017 season set for him. After a rough spring, Calhoun was sent to Triple-A to start the season with Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara locked into the corner OF spots in Texas. 2019 seems like a make or break year for Calhoun with the Rangers.
Matt Olson (1B – OAK)
Olson was one of my favorite mid-round power targets heading into the 2019 draft season. Unfortunately for Olson and fantasy owners, he suffered a broken hamate bone that will keep him from baseball activities for six-to-eight weeks. Hamate bone injuries have a history of sapping power, so even when he returns to game action, he’s not likely to be the player we all hoped for this season. Unlike the other players on the fallers list, Olson is a prime target for dynasty leagues. If at any point during the 2019 season you find yourself in rebuild mode, go out and acquire Olson on the cheap to be your first baseman for 2020 and beyond.